“Languages differ essentially in what they must convey and not in what they may convey.” This maxim offers us the key to unlocking the real force of the mother tongue: if different languages influence our minds in different ways, this is not because of what our language allows us to think but rather because of what it habitually obliges us to think about.
Consider this example. Suppose I say to you in English that “I spent yesterday evening with a neighbor.” You may well wonder whether my companion was male or female, but I have the right to tell you politely that it’s none of your business. But if we were speaking French or German, I wouldn’t have the privilege to equivocate in this way, because I would be obliged by the grammar of language to choose between voisin or voisine; Nachbar or Nachbarin. These languages compel me to inform you about the sex of my companion whether or not I feel it is remotely your concern.
We want students to move away from using problem templates, to use advanccorred notation, to break up complicated problems into smaller pieces, to be more confident in their problem solving ability and to reflect on their solutions and use their judgement as to their reasonableness. In sum, we want them to move from being a novice to an expert. And our teaching strategies have to reflect those goals. Lecture isn’t a bad thing – it has value. It paints the big picture, covers a lot of material, models good speaking and problem solving skills, and can control just what students get out of class and the questions that they ask.
This offers six different how-to videos about different features of Audacity. I like the way it is broken down, so you can pick exactly what you need a tutorial on. Great if you are going to try out podcasting with your classes this year.
A great new piece by Johah Lehrer in this weekend’s upcoming New York Times Magazine, touching on everything from Charles Darwin to David Foster Wallace and everywhere in between, looking for an answer as to why depression exists, and paradoxically, what positive functions it might serve at times. This is one I’ll no doubt be quoting from quite a lot on here, and encouraging my own clients to read immediately. And I urge all of you to do the same: find some time this weekend and sit down with this article.
For Darwin, depression was a clarifying force, focusing the mind on its most essential problems. In his autobiography, he speculated on the purpose of such misery; his evolutionary theory was shadowed by his own life story. “Pain or suffering of any kind,” he wrote, “if long continued, causes depression and lessens the power of action, yet it is well adapted to make a creature guard itself against any great or sudden evil.” And so sorrow was explained away, because pleasure was not enough. Sometimes, Darwin wrote, it is the sadness that informs as it “leads an animal to pursue that course of action which is most beneficial.” The darkness was a kind of light.
The mystery of depression is not that it exists — the mind, like the flesh, is prone to malfunction. Instead, the paradox of depression has long been its prevalence. While most mental illnesses are extremely rare — schizophrenia, for example, is seen in less than 1 percent of the population — depression is everywhere, as inescapable as the common cold. Every year, approximately 7 percent of us will be afflicted to some degree by the awful mental state that William Styron described as a “gray drizzle of horror … a storm of murk.” Obsessed with our pain, we will retreat from everything. We will stop eating, unless we start eating too much. Sex will lose its appeal; sleep will become a frustrating pursuit. We will always be tired, even though we will do less and less. We will think a lot about death.
The persistence of this affliction — and the fact that it seemed to be heritable — posed a serious challenge to Darwin’s new evolutionary theory. If depression was a disorder, then evolution had made a tragic mistake, allowing an illness that impedes reproduction — it leads people to stop having sex and consider suicide — to spread throughout the population. For some unknown reason, the modern human mind is tilted toward sadness and, as we’ve now come to think, needs drugs to rescue itself.
The alternative, of course, is that depression has a secret purpose and our medical interventions are making a bad situation even worse. Like a fever that helps the immune system fight off infection — increased body temperature sends white blood cells into overdrive — depression might be an unpleasant yet adaptive response to affliction. Maybe Darwin was right. We suffer — we suffer terribly — but we don’t suffer in vain.
This is a generalization, true, but a useful one. You can’t find the really effective WCYDWT? media. You can derive surface-scratchers like “what shapes do you see here?” from Creative Commons-licensed Flickr media but if you’re looking to propel a meaningful discussion or a rigorous activity, you have to make it yourself.
I’m coming to agree more and more.
Although (and this is a caveat that the sciences enjoy), the ‘net abounds in growing collections of precise, high-resolution science photos.
Interesting piece on from a professional “marketeer” about marketing books and reading to kids.
Question: What reading (or topics in general) would engage my students?
When an author sells over 300 million copies of her books and statistics show most of the readers are children, you really have to question the wisdom of stating “children these days don’t read”. They do. They just need books that really catches their interest.
As a marketing professional, I find this extremely interesting. I mean, I’m sure there are plenty of novels out there that match or surpass the quality of the boy wizard’s tale, and could easily appeal to the same audience. But they have no marketing to speak of, sitting all forgotten and alone in bookstore shelves.
Now, I know many governments have programs to boost readership (we do here in Portugal), but their message is usually just “read”.
I remember being a young boy and hating receiving abstract advice. “Read” is not a compelling message. “Read , people like you find it .” is much more appealing and actually stands a chance of working. It did for the Harry series.
Governments cannot favour individual publishers or authors, but there are ways they can avoid it and still make their message less abstract and more effective.
1. Use Wordle to have kids generate their own personal word clouds. Have them enter words that describe their physical traits, personality, hobbies, interests, books, video games … really anything that would help someone else get a clear picture of who they are.
2. Create a short tech survey for kids to complete. The quickest way to gather data would be to use Google Docs to create an online survey but paper and pencil work too. This gives you data that can help you plan instruction. Questions should include such things as:
do you have a computer at home?
do you have a cell phone?
what is your text plan?
other mobile devices?
internet speed at home?
4. Head over to the web site titled: 101 Things You Can Do During the First Three Weeks of School. It’s written from a higher ed perspective but has some insight and ideas for dealing with students. One of my new favorites is to take lots of pictures early on and post them around the room and online. It’s a quick and easy way to generate a “family” feel in your room.
I am posting images from the Holt Physical Science textbook. Philadelphia’s physical science curriculum is basically lifted whole cloth from its pages. My goal here is to post the visuals that our students are given, and re-create them so that they are better. I hope others will join in.
Note: This is the first chapter of the book. How quickly do you think students will latch on to the idea of “calcite” composition, when they have not yet learned about elements, minerals, atoms, or calcite?
“Mental health doesn’t mean making the pains go away. I don’t believe they ever go away…I have not healed so much as learned to sit still and wait while pain does its dancing work, trying not to panic or twist in ways that make the blades tear deeper, finally infecting the wounds.”—Lauren Slater, Welcome to My Country (via psychotherapy)